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157. Cottage

In the style of Percy Jackson and Jason Grace

« It's a lot of work,» Annabeth admitted, putting her legs up on the firepit and leaning back into her lounge chair. « But we need the waterfront to keep that one sane," she nodded her head towards Percy.

"He must be hard to pry away," Piper conceded, pulling her feet up onto her chair and reaching for her drink.

"Whenever he has time off in the summer he drives down with Maggie, I'm just lucky if it's the weekend and I get to come along," Annabeth said. "They're both so happy here."

At that moment the cottage door slammed open and a swarm of little girls in a rainbow of bathing suits and matching braids burst out. Percy and Jason followed, though the latter was still fully dressed on account of him not owning a bathing suit. He was tugging his hair as he followed Percy to the edge of the water, a nervous habit he'd picked up post-legion when he'd started growing his hair more than five millimeters.

"Charlotte, Lola, Isobel," Piper called. "Are you all wearing sunscreen?"

"Yeah!" Charlotte cried. "Mama look what Uncle Percy gave us!"

"Boogie boards," Piper said. "Amazing!"

"We can even take the kayak out later," Maggie chirped up.

"Maybe," Percy corrected her. "Depending on how the water is today. Get in there, girls, keep an eye on each other."

And with that and a chorus of squealing and screaming once they hit the cold waves, the girls ran into the sea.

The cottage was small, and they had pitched a tent on the strip of grass between cottage and sand where the kids could stay to make extra room. The cottage had grey paneling and shingles that squeaked and a wraparound porch and tons of windows, including one with a gorgeous blue window seat. The three steps to get to the front door were all littered with shoes and beach toys. A clothesline hung behind, where they kept the BBQ. They were near a floating dock in the sea that you could swim to and dive off, and a beach volleyball court. It was amazing placement, with a beautiful view of the waves and the sky and the place where the two met.

The only person unable to relax on the shore was Jason, who kept tugging his hair.

"Listen," he told Percy, who was standing in the surf. "The kids know how to swim, but they've only ever been in a pool and if the current does anything strange…"

"I told Maggie not to bring them too far in," Percy said. "Besides, I'm keeping an eye on them. I'm pretty sure whenever Maggie's in the sea, so does my dad."

"That's…" Exactly what I'm worried about, Jason finished. He knew that even after years of friendship and of working with Percy on this and that, he was not welcome in his uncle's domain.

"Dude," Percy said. "They are my nieces. I'm looking out for them. The worst that can happen is that they splash too hard, swallow some salt water and cough a bunch."

Jason nodded, and tugged his hair again.

"Did I tell you that when Annabeth took Maggie with her to that conference in DC they flew?" Percy said.

"They did?"

"They did," Percy said. "I only found out when they came back and I wanted to scream. I was so mad at Annabeth. But thing is, Maggie's a kid. Like Charlotte and Lola and Isobel. It's not… it's not fair to them if they just inherit our fears."

"I don't want to pull them into something they aren't part of," Jason said. "But I don't want them to get hurt because of something that's on me. And I'm not sure where that line is drawn."

"Yeah," Percy said, scratching the back of his head. "Well, I'm pretty sure that where grandchildren are concerned, our dads have entered some kind of mutual assured destruction agreement."

"That's... not as reassuring as I think you wanted it to be," Jason said.

"No," Percy said. "No it was not. But look at how much fun they're having."